This past week at the 2016 NFL Draft lives changed, tears were shed, families rejoiced, and players understood their dream of playing on Sundays will actually become a reality. At the same time, a harsh reality was a major headline of the Draft: social media has the potential to threaten a career and potential earnings. More specifically, earnings to the tune of more than $8 million. That’s enough dinero to make any person cringe. This lesson was highlighted by a tweet from the account of Laremy Tunsil that occurred just 13 minutes before the draft. To the detriment of the rookie, this tweet caused plenty of unwanted chitter-chatter among NFL pundits, and more importantly, management of the many organizations around the league.
As the draft begun and the tweet that included a video of him smoking a substance from a bong while wearing a gas mask was released, Tunsil’s slide in the draft began. Originally thought to be a top 10 pick, the offensive tackle slipped to the 13th pick where the Miami Dolphins selected him. It was reported that the Baltimore Ravens had interest in him at the 6th pick. While it may appear that a seven slot slide does not appear to be big in terms of draft selection, it packs a punch to the wallet. According to sports resource website Spotrac, the difference between the projected values between the 6th and 13th selection comes out to about $8 million. If Tunsil went even higher at the 3rd or 4th pick, that $8 million figure rises to the range of around $12 to $13 million more in contract value. Talk about a financial punch to the gut all because of a tweet.
This unfortunate set of circumstances prompts an emphasis on social media awareness and account privacy. Although his account was reportedly hacked, the first point of interest for a professional athlete or prospective professional athlete would be to maintain a heightened awareness about who could possibly access the account. Secondly, how someone chooses to document their personal life, and the company they keep in doing so, should be of increased importance. With posts, tweets, videos, and pictures all pretty much being commonplace within the social media sphere, a life altering event could occur at a moment’s notice. A job can be jeopardized, controversy can be stirred, or something that one does in the privacy of one’s own home can be brought to light. In this case it was substance usage. In another case, it could be religious beliefs, sexual preference, political affiliation, or any subject-matter that is bound to stir up the discussion juices.
Clearly, off-the-field behavior has the potential to be used for the financial gain of others, as reports of the blackmail of Tunsil have loomed over this fiasco. As a highly touted athlete, it would behoove anyone in such a position to remain conscious about their obvious privilege in being one of few to play in the NFL, financial advantages that come along with that, the public visibility they are exposed to, and the potential hawks that exist in this world who seek to exploit that.
In this age of the instant circulation of information, especially for a professional athlete, it must be presumed that nothing is deleted permanently. Things merely remain in a vault, and when the time to blow the dust off of the video or picture comes, things begin to leak mysteriously. And in the case of Tunsil, once the character discussion is within the court of public opinion, it could be difficult to repair. Let’s hope that Tunsil get’s over this obstacle with a strong 2016 season, and that a huge lesson is learned for everyone in understanding when and how to behave when the camera is flashing or when the video is recording. It could end up in placing a few more dollar signs in your account.